MILAKALE, KAUA‘I, THE REPUBLIC OF HAWAI‘I | 1889
As the Sun began to sink behind the ancient volcanic mountain to the west, a small crowd of concerned onlookers populated Milakale Beach. Flaming torches surrounding the stone heiau threw a dancing, satanic light over the scene. As Fox hurried past worried faces, he imagined they were concerned about the condition of the master of the house, when, in reality, they were mostly concerned about having let their sacred place become the stage for some absurd play.
Alexander Lanthier was still laid out on the lava platform where Jun had placed him before Maleko’s uncles had run for help. He was now covered in the woolen Hudson Bay blanket that Mrs. Lanthier carried to the island from foggy San Francisco but found few occasions to use.
Jun knelt at the man’s side, repeatedly checking the stricken man’s meridians for proof that his qi, or energy force, had not yet abandoned him. Lanthier’s dedicated wife also attended, her natural regal bearing undiminished by the stressful situation.
As he began to run down the beach, Fox was barely aware that Mahoe had suddenly stopped approaching the heiau and along with most of the house staff was maintaining a careful distance from the site of the injured man and attendants.
“Mordikai!” Anias leapt up to greet her guest. “This is a blessed miracle! I knew you would come, but I never dreamed we would be so desperate upon your arrival.”
Fox embraced the woman and wiped away a telltale tear from her face that belied her usual grace under pressure.
“Tell me exactly what has happened,” Fox said as he in turn knelt down at the stricken man’s side.
“Mr. Lanthier fell from his horse,” Jun explained. “He is breathing, but he has not awakened. At first I feared he may have broken his neck, and I was scared to move him, but I could not have left him to drown in the surf. Now, I do not think it is broken, watch.” Jun removed a small paring knife from the pocket in his changshan, the traditional long shirt of the Qing dynasty.
Jun had already removed Lanthier’s riding boots and wet socks and now gently dragged the dull side of the blade across the arch of man’s naked foot. To everyone’s relief, the unconscious man’s toes flexed automatically. “It is as if his spirit was knocked out of his body and yet the animal continues to function.”
Fox got a peculiar look on his face and placed one hand on the prostrate man’s head and one on his heart. Above the beach, the visiting comet seemed to pulse brighter in the darkening sky.
“In the name of Jesu the Christ, I command you, wandering spirit, to return to this vessel, so that His name may be glorified!”
As Philomena liked to say when she retold the story countless times over the long course of her life, “I would be Goddamned if it didn’t just come back.”